Transformation. Re-invention. Re-definition. Mid-Life Crisis.
Call it whatever you like. There are times in one’s life when one decides they want something different. There's something about a new calendar year that can prompt these thoughts. I know we are now in March, yet these thoughts linger. This year, the "slow down and breathe" aspect of the pandemic, seems to be making it even more of a thing.
I have experienced a number of these moments - not all of them coinciding with a new year. Allow me to speak a little about some of them.
I graduated high-school at 16. Living in the province of Quebec, Canada, that would normally mean two years of CEGEP (basically college) before going to university. But that wasn’t for me. I knew what I wanted to study (journalism) and I knew where (Carleton University in Ottawa). If I could get into university and study what I wanted, why spend two years of my life in CEGEP?
It’s not like my high-school years were so fantastic that I wanted to extend those. I was awkward, a little nerdy, shy, and lacked confidence. One day the boy I thought was the cutest in school asked me why I wasn’t going to CEGEP in Lennoxville, “that’s where everyone's going,” he said. I just looked at him and replied “that’s exactly why.”
I don’t know which one of us was more surprised by my answer (he knew how I felt about him).
Even at 16 I was aware that I could go to a different city, away from those I had spent my high school years with, and completely change who I was – nobody would have any pre-conceived ideas about me. And I liked that.
Time For A West Coast Transformation, via London...of course...
After my three years at Carleton University I decided to go on a UK adventure and spent a year in London (I fell in love with the accent in grade five when I saw an English movie called "Melody" on tv - I'm still a sucker for the accent). It was a fabulous year of discovering a new city and country, hanging out with friends, going to nightclubs, and experiencing my first real love (did I mention I am a sucker for a British accent???). A year of coming into myself as a young adult.
I remember the moment I decided it was time to come back to Canada. I was at a Brian Adams concert at the Hammersmith Odeon Theatre. As soon as he and his band came onto the stage wearing jeans, t-shirts and boots I thought to myself “it’s time to go home.” But I didn’t want to go back to Ottawa, nor the Eastern Townships in Québec, and I didn't want to go to Montréal.
So with a bag of clothes and $200 cash, I flew to Vancouver. I had never been, however it just seemed like the place I wanted to be.
New city, new life, "new me".
I stayed in Vancouver for over 20 years; gathering new friends; getting married (and divorced); working in the art world, design world, and eventually the world of the Olympic Games.
Taking advantage of the West Coast and Vancouver’s lifestyle, I developed a love for swimming. Having always loved being in the water, I decided to take swimming lessons to improve my technique, and actually know what I was doing when it came to swimming lanes. I also started running with a group of friends, and managed three half marathons. I started working out in a boxing gym, which I miss like crazy (don’t worry, I do not spar, as I detest striking humans, but give me some pads to punch and kick and wham!). And of course I got into yoga. I used to say that the combination of boxing and yoga kept me in balance - one to take out my frustrations and another to get 'zen'.
Nobody who knew me as a child would have described me as “athletic”, including myself. I loved all sports, was an avid fan, knew just about everything there was to know about them, but I wasn’t any good at them – the proverbial “last one picked for the team.” This was definitely a “new athletic me” (and I still do all of this as much as possible).
After 3 ½ years with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games organizing committee, I decided I liked the nature of working in events. You work hard for a pre-determined amount of time, the event is delivered, and then you can take as much time off as you want before moving onto the next event. So for the past seven years this is what I have done.
This time the “new me” was an international events specialist, and I was able to discover new countries like Turkey, Azerbaijan, UAE, Qatar, Argentina, Columbia, Greece, Russia and Japan. Seeing so many different countries and cultures really does enhance one’s overall life experience – giving new perspective and appreciation for a great many things (not the least of which is the sheer luck of having been born a Canadian).
Covid-19 Induced Transformation.
With Covid-19 and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021, the project I spent a year working on came to an end.
This time I chose to come back to Montréal, and found myself contemplating my next “re-invention”.
I decided to take some writing courses. I’ve always enjoyed writing and have wanted to get back to my blog. I started it about nine years ago but wasn't really writing, at least not consistently. (It’s Lisezfaire.com) When I first looked at the courses offered by Montreal's Concordia University, I saw that writing and sharing one’s writing for review and critique by the class was part of the programme.
Oh oh…what??? People will read what I write and critique it...to my face? Not sure I am comfortable with that idea!
The thought of this really made me nervous and uncomfortable. However, I have come to love it. We all write and share, and there is a lot to be gained from having people react and comment on what you have written. You also gain as much by listening to what others write. And the sharing of stories is incredible.
While I still continue to be involved in events, I feel the winds of change. So the question is “what’s next”? In my previous re-inventions, I have always had a clear idea of where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do. This time, not so much.
So I am concentrating on doing things that I enjoy, and will see where that leads to. Sometimes you just have to jump and see where you land.
If you are feeling the itch to change things up again, here is what I "know" - based on my experience:
- When you hear a little voice inside telling you to make a change, try something new, try something you have always wanted to do – do it. Follow that voice.
- Do NOT follow the voice in your head that doubts, questions and tells you “you can’t do that!” Although it sounds like that voice is trying to protect you, it’s really only curbing your potential.
- Talk to trusted friends. We all need a few key people to be our supporters, cheerleaders, and sounding board.
- Some people will tell you what you are doing is crazy – and that is just fine. Lots of new things are viewed as crazy. And remember, we all have different values and comfort zones.
- If it feels a little uncomfortable, that’s okay. Moving through that discomfort is what helps you grow and see what you are really capable of.
- Do it safely – on your terms and in your time.
- As long as whatever you are doing does not hurt you or anyone else…it’s all good.
- Know that the only person that gets to decide who you are is….YOU!
At the end of the day, you are not actually becoming someone "new" - you are tapping into one of the many wonderful things you are. No need to label it.
I heard something recently that put a smile on my face… If you don’t try, then you will never know where try will lead you. So give it a try…see where it leads you and have a shit load of fun along the way!